Gardening News Articles

Collection of various news articles related to gardening.

2016

  • “Scientist Discover How Farmers Can Fight Pests with Crops,” TakePart.com
    • Summary: Not only can having a variety of plants growing on one farm reduce pest problems, but it can also improve soil health and yields. But on large, mechanized farms that rely on specialized machines, such an approach to agriculture isn’t practical. To increase diversity, some farmers plant strips of wildflowers or weeds along the edges of their fields to act as a barrier for “bad” pests and an attractive food source for beneficialBlue Flowers insects. A new study published Wednesday in Nature has found that farms might be equally well served by growing a slightly different type of monoculture made of up different varieties of the same crop that have varying nutrient levels.
    • https://www.yahoo.com/news/scientist-discover-farmers-fight-pests-crops-154107772.html
  • “Future Increase in Plant Photosynthesis Revealed By Seasonal Carbon Dioxide Cycle,” Environmental News Network
    • Summary: Doubling of the carbon dioxide concentration will cause global plant photosynthesis to increase by about one third, according to a paper published in the journal Nature. The study has relevance for the health of the biosphere because photosynthesis provides the primary food-source for animal life, but it also has great relevance for future climate change. Vegetation and soil are currently slowing down global warming by absorbing about a quarter of human emissions of carbon dioxide. This land carbon sink is believed to be in part due to increases in photosynthesis. It is widely accepted that plant photosynthesis will increase with carbon dioxide, so long as nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, are not limiting.
    • http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/50031
  • “Millions of Trees are Dying Across the US,” ENN News
    • Summary: Throughout the U.S., trees are dying at an astonishing rate. The reasons for the die-off vary from location to location — drought, disease, insects and wildfires—but the root cause in many of these cases is the same: climate change. The epidemic is even threatening the oldest white oak tree in America, a 600-year-old giant in New Jersey that predates Columbus’ visit to the Americas.
    • http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/50013
  • “Phosphorus a key soil nutrient to boost crop yields,” Western Farm Press
    • Summary: With a global population expected to reach nine billion people by 2050, improved management of key essential soil nutrients such as phosphorus will be necessary to boost crop yields and stay ahead of steeply rising food demand. Studies suggest this could be a problem in U.S. Corn Belt states as the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) suggests phosphorus is being under-applied in rather significant portions of that region. The lowest soil test phosphorus levels in North America are generally found in the Great Plains, but many farmers there are responding to that and slowly building those levels up by increasing phosphorus use relative to crop-removal rates. Phosphorus is present as phosphate in every cell of our bodies. It is a nutrient required by all living things for basic life-sustaining processes, such as energy storage. Global supplies of phosphate are finite, and most of the largest phosphate reserves are in areas of the world that are prone to political instability, such as Africa and the Middle East. The phosphorus situation is also challenged by many agricultural soils with insufficient levels of plant-available phosphorus, and some soils with a high capacity to fix applied phosphorus in slowly available forms due to reactions with calcium, magnesium, aluminum or iron. Crops grown in these soils are not able to obtain sufficient phosphorus to meet their needs and cannot reach their full yield potential.
    • http://westernfarmpress.com/crops/phosphorus-key-soil-nutrient-boost-crop-yields
  • “Selecting the Right House Plant Could Improve Indoor Air,” Eureka Alert
    • Summary: Indoor air pollution is an important environmental threat to human health, leading to symptoms of “sick building syndrome.” But researchers report that surrounding oneself with certain house plants could combat the potentially harmful effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a main category of these pollutants. Interestingly, they found that certain plants are better at removing particular harmful compounds from the air, suggesting that, with the right plant, indoor air could become cleaner and safer. However, there is a cheap, simple tool to remove VOCs: house plants. Using plants to remove chemicals from indoor air is called biofiltration or phytoremediation. In addition to carbon dioxide, plants can take up gases such as benzene, toluene and other VOCs. NASA began studying this option in 1984 and found that plants could absorb these airborne compounds via their leaves and roots.
    • http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/49944
  • “Garden DIY: How to make compost tea and boost your garden’s health,” Stuff (New Zealand)bees in honeycomb
    • July 29, 2016
    • Summary: As most gardeners know, weeds tend towards the vigorous end of the plant health spectrum. But that means weeds can actually be good for your garden. Many have with deep tap roots, like dandelions, to allow them to draw valuable minerals and nutrients from the soil and store it in their roots and leaves. That makes these plants mineral powerhouses. If you steep them in water those valuable nutrients are released, and you’ll create a rich tonic that will give your vege plot a boost.
    • http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/home-property/82071431/Garden-DIY-How-to-make-compost-tea-and-boost-your-gardens-health
  • “Patch of prairie outperforms lawn,” Columbus Dispatch (OH)
    • Summary: Turf grass blankets 40 million acres in the United States. It takes 8 billion gallons of water to irrigate all that grass—daily. That much water would fill more than 12,000 Olympic-sized pools. More than 30 million tons a year of fertilizer keep the emerald carpets lush. Mountains of pesticides ensure that pesky bugs or unwanted weeds don’t despoil the lawns. Pampered grass requires lots of cutting, and Americans’ mowers suck up 800 million gallons of gas a year. The fleet contributes almost 10 percent of our air pollution. Lawns are little better than cement in fostering biodiversity. They are biological dead zones. All of this is mostly for aesthetics. The manicured lawn is perpetuated by peer pressure and lack of imagination. In spring of 2012, a group eradicated one-third acre of turf grass at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ headquarters in Columbus (where I work). The site was seeded with a mixture of native prairie plants. The results in just three years are stunning.
    • http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/home_and_garden/2015/08/02/01-patch-of-prairie-outperforms-lawn.html
  • “Plant provides home for many local creatures,” SaukValley.com (IL)
    • Summary: Little bluestem Schizachryrium scoparium is the most common native prairie grass in the U.S. It grows in 46 of our 50 states. The four Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada can’t lay claim to any little blue. Little blue has a root system that is hard to believe; while the above-ground grass mass may be 24 to 48 inches in height, the roots tangle and tussle through the rich prairie soil to a depth of 8 feet. The name comes from the slight bluish tinge to the green grass clumps in late spring and early summer. By autumn, the grass explodes with a rust and copper hue that sets the prairie on fire. Little bluestem always was on the dinner menu of the vast herds of bison that once roamed the U.S. And today, little blue is a favored grass of cattle because the nutrient-rich forage causes good weight gain in commercial cattle herds. Little blue begins growth in early April and provides nutritious grazing during the growing season; plus it makes good winter grazing. As with any grass, continual over-grazing causes death of the grass clump. The key to successful bison and cattle grazing is rotation. Bison rotated naturally; the seasons and the temperatures and the amount of rainfall all were factors in the movements of the great herds.
    • http://www.saukvalley.com/2015/06/10/plant-provides-home-for-many-local-creatures/a30qlfw/#
  • “Birds, Birds and More Birds Migrating Through Chicago Right Now,” DNA Info
    • Summary: The birds come through Chicago as a feeding and resting stop as they head as far south as South America. The city provides trees, beaches and other habitats that aren’t available on farmland. That even includes Chicago golf courses, which are filled with ponds, sand and trees. Members of the Illinois Birding Network Facebook group have posted dozens of photos of the feathered friends that are flying around and hanging out in the city. There is a slideshow with photos of birds during migration through Chicago.
    • https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20160822/uptown/birds-birds-more-birds-migrating-through-chicago-right-now
  • “How to use a rain barrel (Yes, they’re legal now),” The Coloradoan
    • Summary: Starting Wednesday, many Coloradans can legally collect rain to water their gardens and lawns.  The state legislature passed a law this year clarifying that residents of single-family homes and some multi-family residences can store up to 110 gallons of rain in one or two barrels at their homes. Before , residents had to own a water right to store any amount of water for any amount of time, although no one was ever jailed for holding on to a couple inches of rain.
    • http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2016/08/09/rain-barrels-soon-legal-colorado/88483492/
  • Plants send out stress signals just like animals, scientists find, “The Washington  Post
    • Summary: Plants can’t feel pain or hunger like animals, but their cells can communicate stress in a way that’s not so different from what animals do, scientists have found. The finding, published this week in Nature Communication, shows that plants use a compound—the same compound used as an essential neurotransmitter in animal brains —to create electrical signals that regulate growth when facing drought, viruses or extreme temperatures. In other words, this is how plants manage stress without having a central nervous system.
    • http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/07/30/plants-send-out-stress-signals-just-like-animals-scientists-find/
  • “Will $20 million plan turn more Austin sludge into compost?,” Austin American-Statesman (TX)
    • Summary: Austin has a sludge problem. Several years after a buildup of compost led to persistent fires, costing at least $3 million and taking more than a month to extinguish, city officials are keen to hire a waste hauler to cut down the amount of material piling up around its Hornsby Bend facility. They blame the buildup on a downturn in the market for “Dillo Dirt,” the Austin-branded compost composed of sewage sludge and yard clippings. A half-dozen years ago, the city of Austin sold 45,000 cubic yards of Dillo Dirt for nearly $550,000 in revenue. Last year, sales were down by nearly two-thirds. City officials say the drought was to blame, as Austinites turned away from landscaping. The Austin City Council will consider in August a contract that will turn over much of the compost-making to an outside company. Eager to steer compostable material away from landfills, city officials say the deal will mean more compost and more sales. But environmental activists and a powerful landfill and compost company say the deal will lead to less composting.
    • http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/will-20-million-plan-turn-more-austin-sludge-into-/nr7Cn/
  • “Poughkeepsies’ water fine may be paid in cash — and rain barrels,” Poughkeepsie Journal (NY)
    • Summary: The EPA was preparing to levy a $10,000 fine because a $20 million upgrade was months behind a schedule mandated in an agreement between the agency and the board that oversees the Poughkeepsies’ water treatment plant. The plant treats water drawn from the Hudson River, which is then conveyed to the Town and City of Poughkeepsie, as well as some customers in the towns of Hyde Park and East Fishkill, including the GlobalFoundries plant. But now the agency and the board are exploring different ways to satisfy that fine, including the possible distribution of rain barrels.
    • http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2016/07/28/poughkeepsie-epa-water-fine/87530938/
  • “University of Tokyo joins Massachusetts research consortium,” Recycling Today (OH)
    • Summary: The Metal Processing Institute (MPI) and the co-located Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling (CR3), Worcester, Massachusetts, have announced that the University of Tokyo (UTokyo) has become the second international partner to join the research alliance. MPI and CR3 are located on the campus of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Established in 1877 as the first national university in Japan, UTokyo has gained worldwide recognition for the work it is doing to bring research and academia together, specifically in the area of addressing depletion of our natural resources and damage to the environment, according to MPI.
    • http://www.recyclingtoday.com/article/mpi-cr3-utokyo-scrap-recycling-research/
  • “New chemical-free desalination tech helps bring water surplus to Israel,” Inhabitat (NY)
    • Summary: Between 1998 and 2012, the Eastern Mediterranean region suffered through the worst drought in at least 900 years. This drought contributed to the rapid rise of the Arab Spring and fueled civil war in Syria. Facing the prospect of running out of water, Israel implemented a program of water conservation and recycling. However, its most dramatic change came from widespread adoption of cutting-edge desalinization technology – including a shift away from chemicals that utilizes volcanic rock to filter desalinated water.
    • http://inhabitat.com/new-chemical-free-desalination-tech-helps-bring-water-surplus-to-israel/
  • “DC Turning Waste Water Solids into Gardeners’ Gold,” WTOP
    • Summary: DC Water has unveiled a new product that will turn waste into a product for landscapers to use. DC Water CEO and General Manager George Hawkins said the biosolids soil additive Bloom will be available to buy at garden and home centers in 2017. Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant’s thermal hydrolysis and anaerobic digestion facility uses high heat, pressure and favorable microbes to create Class A biosolids—clean enough for growing crops for human consumption.
    • http://wtop.com/dc/2016/05/d-c-turning-waste-water-solids-gardeners-gold/slide/1/
  • “Orchard Project Aims to Provide Abundance,” Idyllwild Town Crier (CA)
    • Summary: The Orchard Project will plant sponsored trees in community-accessible spaces where water sponsors provide sustenance to those in Idyllwild, Calif. Tricia Pilkington, a certified permaculturist said the project will create harmonious, self-producing and food-yielding environments. The plan is to plant 10 fruit or nut trees per year for 10 years in community-accessible spaces throughout the village’s downtown area, with the goal of modeling future sustainability and responsible development to residents and visitors. Interested donors may sponsor a fruit or nut tree for $250 or water for the same amount. Trees will be planted in public-access spaces designed for water conservation and redistribution. Businesses sponsoring the plot of land get access to the harvest—one-half of the fruit—and the Orchard Project gets the other half to turn into jams and jellies to sell to continue the project. Volunteers form the planting crews.
    • http://idyllwildtowncrier.com/2016/05/25/orchard-project-aims-provide-abundance/
  • “Antidepressant Microbes in Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy,” Gardening Know How, link to video
    • Summary: Did you know that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier. Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress. Lack of serotonin has been linked to depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar problems. The bacterium appears to be a natural antidepressant in soil and has no adverse health effects. These antidepressant microbes in soil may be as easy to use as just playing in the dirt. Most avid gardeners will tell you that their landscape is their “happy place” and the actual physical act of gardening is a stress reducer and mood lifter. The fact that there is some science behind it adds additional credibility to these garden addicts’ claims. The presence of a soil bacteria antidepressant is not a surprise to many of us who have experienced the phenomenon ourselves. Backing it up with science is fascinating, but not shocking, to the happy gardener. Gardeners inhale the bacteria, have topical contact with it and get it into their bloodstreams when there is a cut or other pathway for infection. The natural effects of the soil bacteria antidepressant can be felt for up to 3 weeks if the experiments with rats are any indication. So get out and play in the dirt and improve your mood and your life.
    • http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm/?print=1&loc=top
  • “10 Water Conservation Tips for Early Spring,” Water Signal
    • Summary: As winter draws to a close, the time has come to inspect the damage caused by the past few months of freezing temperatures, ice and snow. With the inevitable annual thaw in mind, here’s a list of conservation tips to help you identify leaks and conserve water by staying proactive. Check your building’s water pressure; excessive pressure can increase the chance for leaks. Make sure all outdoor rain sensors for irrigation are working properly. Reduce lawn irrigation; it’s easy to train the grass to grow with less water. If you have a swimming pool, remind yourself to monitor the water line for leaks. Prepare a quarterly schedule and checklist for identifying leaks in common areas such as faucets, sinks, dishwasher, etc. Inspect basement crawl spaces; even small leaks here can cause devastating structural damage. Check the outdoor area of your property for wet spots and alligator-like pavement, which are common signs of an underground leak. Reduce the amount of area with lawn or replace turf with deep-rooted grass that needs less water. Buy products with the U.S. EPA’s WaterSense label that indicates conservation and performance standards set by the agency.
    • http://www.watersignal.com/water-conservation-spring/
  • “Earth Day-Inspired Ways to Show the Planet Some Love,” Chicago Tribune (IL)
    • Summary: With Earth Day approaching April 22, there are numerous activities full of ways to plant a seed toward conserving the planet. A partial list of the many Chicago-area events in April include: Celebrating Earth Day, April 16, Main Park, Frankfort; Earth Day Campfire Celebration, evening of April 22, Iron Oaks Environmental Learning Center, Olympia Fields; Earth Day, April 23, Vittum Park, Chicago; Ecological Restoration Tours, April 23, Jackson Park, Chicago; Eco-Expo and Recycling Event, April 24, Brookfield Zoo; Shredding Event, April 30, 80th Avenue Train Station, Tinley Park; and Earth Day Faire, April 30, Wolfe Wildlife Refuge, Oak Lawn.
    • http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/lifestyles/ct-sta-earth-day-events-st-0415-20160412-story.html
  • “Next Crop of Farmers and Soil Scientists Cultivated on Working Farm/Outdoor Classroom,” USDA
    • Summary: When Otis Donald Philen, Jr. decided to combine his working farm operation with an outdoor classroom, he knew just the group to help?the New River Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). In September 2014, New River became the first District in Virginia to own a working farm when Philen deeded a 143-acre tract to the district. Located on the headwaters of Moore Creek, New River Hill Farm cultivates the next crop of farmers, ranchers and soil scientists through a unique outdoor classroom on a working farm. Children and adults gain hands-on learning experiences in sustainable farming practices. Volunteers teach students how to keep the soil healthy and how to care for the plants through harvest. Older students learn the economic side of running a farm as they calculate the costs of raising cattle. Last year, students helped weigh, immunize and show 35 Holstein steers. Those steers also help demonstrate sustainable grazing practices to fellow farmers at educational field days. The cattle and produce are sold to help support the education program. This year, the group bought 50 steers and plans to add beehives, free-range chickens and hogs in the future.
    • tp://blogs.usda.gov/2016/04/13/next-crop-of-farmers-and-soil-scientists-cultivated-on-working-farmoutdoor-classroom/
  • “College Hill Learning Garden,” San Francisco Public Utitlies Commission (CA)
    • Summary: The College Hill Learning Garden is the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC’s) education and demonstration garden which contains a range of features designed to teach local students about how they can help cities transition to ecologically friendly water, food, energy, and waste systems. The site contains dozens of interactive features, including solar panels, a composting toilet, rain gardens, vegetable planters, and more. The site’s unique curriculum was co-designed with the site’s physical landscape. The site will be open as of April 2016 to class field trips for kindergarteners through 5th graders. Field trips generally last one to two hours and are free to any school. The curriculum is based on topics that include: aspects of a living city; healthy urban watersheds and rainwater; rain gardens, wet weather gardens and drought resistant gardens; renewable energy; reusing and recycling material waste; and stewardship of a healthy urban habitat.
    • http://www.sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=987
  • “St. Paul Rethinks Drainage,” Minnesota Daily
    • Summary: As part of a two-year, $3 million project, St. Paul, Minn., will adapt brownfields to protect water resources. St. Paul received funding in March to study the cost of building and maintaining new stormwater infrastructure. St. Paul was one of four cities in the U.S. chosen by the City Accelerator, a program where Living Cities and the Citi Foundation gathered $3 million to fund studies on infrastructure projects that would impact low-income residents.  A site which once housed the Ford Motor Company’s assembly plant on 135 acres along the Mississippi River is the largest location in St. Paul’s development plans. Stormwater is usually managed in an underground network, but the city’s plan would change that. City planners are looking at ways to bring stormwater systems onto the surface and turn them into property assets such as ponds, wetlands, streams, or an integral component of buildings, which has been done at CHS Field—it uses stormwater to flush toilets and irrigate the baseball field.
    • http://www.mndaily.com/news/metro-state/2016/04/05/st-paul-rethinks-drainage
  • “Jefferson City Offering Free Kits to Curb Mosquito Population,” WIAT (AL)
    • Summary: The Jefferson County (Ala.) Stormwater Management Dept. is offering free “mosquito dunk” kits to keep mosquitoes at bay as temperatures warm up. While stormwater experts recommend removing all sources of standing water in a yard, in some cases—such as birdbaths and ponds—this isn’t possible. This is where the dunking kit becomes useful. The dunks can’t kill mosquitoes but they can reduce their population by preventing their young from hatching. Stormwater management officials said the dunks will not harm pets or most wildlife and using dunks can prevent pesticides’ poisonous runoff from entering waterways. The packaging says they are not recommended for use in drinking water. One mosquito dunk can protect 100 square feet of surface water for up to 30 days.
    • http://wiat.com/2016/04/06/jefferson-county-offering-free-kits-to-curb-mosquito-population/
  • “The Illusion of Water in a Low-Water Garden,” North Coast Journal (CA)
    • Summary: Whether because of water conservation restrictions or a desire to reduce water consumption, it’s possible to create the illusion of abundant water in a garden while also being water wise. Here are a few tips on how to evoke the look and feel of water in the landscape, without using much of it. Create a flowing sea of ornamental grasses, which adds life and motion to a landscape. Grow a low-mow eco-lawn, such as a dwarf fescue grass seed blend that thrives in low-water conditions. Use succulents; these plants have an unusual appearance and require little watering. Plant hardy “spillers” in pots; plants such as silver ponyfoot and Berkeley sedge create the illusion of a waterfall. Build a tiny oasis; in the Persian tradition, a birdbath, copper bowl, recirculating fountain, or galvanized steel tank holding water can reinforce the illusion of abundant water.
    • http://www.northcoastjournal.com/humboldt/the-illusion-of-water-in-the-low-water-garden/Content?oid=3677368
  • “Fetzer Vineyards Using Regenerative Filtration, Worms, Microbes to Treat 100% of Winery Wastewater,” Sustainable Brands
    • Summary: Fetzer Vineyards announced Wednesday it will install the BioFiltro BIDA® System at its Mendocino, Calif., winery. In doing so, Fetzer will become the first American winery to use the closed-loop biological wastewater treatment system to process 100% of its winery wastewater. Powered by billions of earthworms working rapidly in concert with beneficial microbes, the regenerative filtration system will begin processing the vineyards’ wastewater during the 2016 harvest season, accruing energy savings up to 85% over current wastewater treatment technologies and optimizing water conservation measures in support of the fight against climate change.
    • http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/waste_not/sustainable_brands/fetzer_vineyards_using_regenerative_filtration_worms_mic
  • Wild Edibles – sergeiboutenko.com